In a European Nations Cup Division 1 ('Six Nations B') match at the university grounds in Madrid on Saturday, Spain play Georgia, currently topping Division 1.
For both teams this is the second round of a competition played over two years. At present Georgia top the log, unbeaten in five matches while Spain are second from the bottom with only two wins, over Portugal and Ukraine. It is a tough task for Spain, even in Madrid. When the two teams met in Tbilisi last year, the Lelos won 60-0.
Spain feel far better prepared this time and have a simple gameplan - get in Georgia's half and then run the ball. Much will depend on how well the Lions' pack can contain the tough Georgians, albeit without massive Mamuka Gorgodze who will be playing for Montpellier on Friday night. Of the Georgian side, 14 play for French clubs, none a starting player for a Top 14 side.
Spain have a new centre-pairing in debutant Pierre Emmanuel García and experienced César Sempéré who plays for Northampton and is better known as a fullback. The Spaniards have high hopes for the speed of the wings, Sébastien Ascarat, who plays for Auch in Pro D2, and South African Ryan le Roux, and that the loose trio can repeat its outstanding performance against Uruguay.
The Lions hope to reproduce the victories of 2000 and 2007 over the Lelos.
As throughout Europe, Spain is cold Saturday will start at -6°C, before getting up on a sunny day to 8°C and then dropping to -4°C, which will not shock the men from Georgia where the high of the day will be -3°C.
Spain: 15 Mathieu Peluchon, 14 Ryan le Roux, 13 César Sempéré, 12 Pierre García, 11 Sébastien Ascarat, 10 Charlie Malie, 9 Sébastien Rouet, 8 Mathieu Visengsang, 7 Glenn Rolls, 6 Gauthier Guibouin, 5 Tom Parker, 4 Jesús Recuerda, 3 Jesus Moreno, 2 Beñat Auzqui, 1 Anthony Pradalie
Replacements: 16 Jonathan Phipps, 17 Joe Hutchinson, 18 Craig Lyons, 19 Mathieu Roca, 20 Adrien Ayestarán, 21 Carlos Blanco, 22 Sergi Aubanell
Georgia: 15 Revaz Gigauri, 14 Giorgi Shkinin, 13 Davit Kacharava, 12 Merab Sharikadze, 11 Irakli Machkhaneli, 10 Merab Kvirikashvili, 9 Irakli Abuseridze, 8 Dimitri Basilaia, 7 Givi Berishvili, 6 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Levan Datunashvili, 3 Beka Sheklashvili, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Mikheil Natriashvili,
Replacements: 16 Karlen Asieshvili, 17 Levan Chilachava, 18 Giorgi Nemsadze, 19 Giorgi Kalmakhelidze, 20 Giorgi Begadze, 21 Beka Tsiklauri, 22 Alexander Todua, 23 Lasha Malaguradze, 24 Beka Bitsadze.
Date: Saturday, 11 February 2012
Venue: Estadio Nacional Universidad Complutense, Madrid
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Michael Black (Ireland), Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
In the other Division 1 match of thew weekend, Portugal play Russia in Lisbon. After their World Cup experiences Russia could be expected to win though they are below Portugal on the log.
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